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Fantasy football start/sit advice, Week 1: RBs to start, RBs to fade

Mack and Ingram could help your fantasy season get off to a great start.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The first week of the NFL season is finally here. And while that’s excellent news for us fans, it’s also a week where fantasy football roster decisions can be a little dicey, especially with no preseason to shake up depth charts. That’s not a problem if you were able to draft one of the workhorse running backs, guaranteed to get a high volume of touches this week and every week after it. But finding the right guy for the second running back spot or a flex role on your Week 1 roster can be a little trickier. Here are a few names to help you make those difficult choices.

Running Back Starts

Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Nothing beats a good running back guessing game to really get you fired up for the first week of the fantasy football season. The question of whether to draft Mack or rookie second-round pick Johnathan Taylor made for more than a few dramatic pauses during drafts last week. Fortunately, the answer to that question is delayed by at least a week. Mack is the incumbent starter on a Colts team that loves to run the ball. And they’ll be running it plenty this week against whatever is left of the Jaguars once-mighty defense. Mack is going to get plenty of work—so will Taylor in all likelihood—and is a safe bet for a productive day.

Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns

Here’s another team with a much-heralded rookie who’s expected to push a veteran running back for playing time this season. However, with no preseason games to get the up and coming J.K. Dobbins some work against live opponents and a matchup where the Ravens are heavy favorites, the move this week, if you’re on the fence about who to put in that RB2 or flex spot, is to go with Ingram.

The 31-year-old had one of his best seasons in 2019, rushing for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 202 carries, averaging 5 yards per attempt and almost 70 yards per game. The Ravens found plenty of work for all their running backs last year, and while Dobbins will eventually eat into Ingram’s snaps in the passing game, the veteran is going to get the lion’s share of the work as a runner, especially this week.

Running Back Sits

Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints

It hasn’t even been a week since the Bucs signed Fournette, who goes from being a featured, high-volume running back to just another guy in a running back committee ... on a team that’s going to pass the ball A LOT. Third-year running back Ronald Jones sits comfortably atop the depth chart, something that isn’t changing this week. There’s also LeSean McCoy to pick up work on passing downs. That doesn’t leave Fournette with all that much to do, despite head coach Bruce Arians’ promise to give his newest addition a “solid role” against the Saints and their top-10 defense.

D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears

I have high hopes for Swift this season. Unfortunately, those good feelings are on hold this week. Detroit listed Kerryon Johnson as the starting running back on the team’s depth chart this week. Behind him is newly acquired veteran Adrian Peterson, who should be very familiar with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s system from their time together in Minnesota. You have to go all the way down to the fourth spot to find Swift’s name. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Swift’s been dealing with a leg injury. In fact, he might not play much at all this week; I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets left on the inactive list. Swift will get his time, but we’ll have to wait and see when that actually happens.